How to Get What You Want From Relationships

October 12, 2020

  minute READ

Mismatched Sexual Desire

Most of us understand mismatched desire can wreak havoc with relationships. There is a lot of focus in the industry around mismatched sexual desire, when one partner wants more sex than the other. Online forums highlighting sexless marriages share this reality.  

A fear for many who deeply desire long term relationships, but avoid them, is the potential for mismatched desire. Understandably so – it’s difficult to be in a committed relationship while being pulled either way.

However, focusing only on sexual desire and libido is one dimensional and may lead you to overlook a mismatch in other desires. If you only focus on sexual desire you’ll never find a resolution.

Multidimensional Relationships

Having a mismatch of desires can be a problem in all relationships. From a one night stand to friends with benefits, and short term dating to long marriages, relationships don’t work out because of a mismatch of desires.

Your desires exist at these three levels: 

  • Individual: What’s up when you’re not together
  • Relational: What’s up when you are together
  • Social: What’s up with how you present to others

A mismatch can occur at any of these 3 levels. Typically, a mismatch of desire shows up when you feel frustration and repeatedly discuss something with a lack of follow-through, or when your experience with a partner is awesome but then they just disconnect. 

Where to Begin

The individual level is about your desires for yourself as an individual when you are not together with your partner within a relationship. Some questions to consider: 

  • How much space do you want a partner to take up in your life when you’re not together (time spent thinking, texting, daydreaming, fantasizing)?
  • How much time do you want set aside for you independent of a partner? This could be time alone or time where you are out pursuing your own interests.
  • Which activities do you want dedicated time to pursue on your own when you are not with your partner?

The relational level is about your desires for when you are together 1:1 with your partner. Some questions to consider: 

  • How much emotional support do you want to offer and receive?
  • How often and for how long would you like to meet your partner?
  • During a meeting, what % of the time would you like to dedicate to the following activities:
    • Conversation
    • Shared activities (sport, playing games, preparing food, watching movies, etc.)
    • Sex

The social level is about how you present together with your partner when you are out in the wider world, most specifically among friends, colleagues, and family. Some questions to consider: 

  • How do you want your relationship to be viewed by others?
  • Do you want to go out socially together? How important is this to you?
  • What would you be comfortable calling your partner? What would you be comfortable with them calling you?


Mismatched desires are multifaceted, and looking at sexual desires alone will lead to disconnection in other areas of life. There is more to a relationship than sex.

By looking at all three levels of desire before getting too involved, you will gain a well-rounded understanding of not only what you want, but how you can get it.

About the Author

Sarah Martin, MA, CSC is CEO of Dignified Hedonist, a sexuality support company that guides introverted men to lead desire-led, sex-forward, and pleasure-focused lives. Sarah is the host of the Sexual Craftsmanship podcast, a weekly podcast packed full of actionable information and advice for sex and relationships in the 21st century. Sarah loves rainbows, books, and Pokemon Go.

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